In a recent news conference over the ongoing kidnapping crisis in Nigeria, the national chairman of the Kibaku (Chibok) Area Development Association has stated that at least seven parents of kidnapped girls have died due to trauma. According to Dr. Pogu Bitrus, delays in the government response to free the girls has taken a toll on parents as a result.
So far, Boko Haram has carried out 15 attacks on the Chibok (Kibaku) nation involving 19 villages with over 229 killed and over 100 injured. Some of the victims of the attacks are parents and relatives of the abducted girls which is adding to the trauma experienced by the Chibok community.
"While the situation persists, many distressed parents are dying of heart attack and frustration as their dejection had become unbearable. On record, seven parents have lost their lives due to the trauma of the situation"
The crisis began on the night of April 14-15 of this year when 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Nigeria's Borno state. Boko Haram, an Islamic Jihadist group based in northern Nigeria later claimed responsibility. Attempts to rescue the kidnapped girls have been stymied by bureaucratic delays and Boko Haram counterattacks that have killed hundred of people in the Chibok area. Despite international pressure, over 200 girls remain prisoners amid fears of further kidnapping attempts on other schools.
During the latest news conference, Dr. Bitrus had harsh words for the Nigerian government whom he accused of failing the families of the kidnapped girls. "Today (Friday) is the 81st day since the abduction and in spite of the firm categorical statements by the Chief of Defence Staff that the location of the girls was known to the government, the appalling situation and agony encompassing the unfortunate abduction saga and detention of the Chibok girls by the Boko Haram insurgents continues and the rescue efforts by the government is yet to yield any result," he said during the news conference.
"While the situation persists, many distressed parents are dying of heart attack and frustration as their dejection had become unbearable."
Psychological research has shown that victims of terrorism and their families often experience post-traumatic distress that can have lead to serious medical problems over time.
Along with the lack of control over the fate of their loved ones, family members can experience frustration due to the limited support they often receive from government agencies. As the Chibok hostage crisis drags on, the stress experienced by parents and other family members is likely to take a greater toll on health over time.